Minor typographical errors have been corrected.
Carats (^) designate a superscript (example: y^e, in which the "e" is a superscript).
Footnotes have been moved to the end of each chapter.
THE OLD COAST ROAD
From Boston to Plymouth
With Illustrations by Louis H. Ruyl
Boston and New York Houghton Mifflin Company The Riverside Press Cambridge 1920
Copyright, 1920, by Agnes Edwards Pratt All Rights Reserved
THE OLD COAST ROAD
From Boston to Plymouth
BOSTON: A FOREWORD ix
I. DORCHESTER HEIGHTS AND THE OLD COAST ROAD 1
II. MILTON AND THE BLUE HILLS 19
III. SHIPBUILDING AT QUINCY 35
IV. THE ROMANCE OF WEYMOUTH 57
V. ECCLESIASTICAL HINGHAM 75
VI. COHASSET LEDGES AND MARSHES 92
VII. THE SCITUATE SHORE 111
VIII. MARSHFIELD, THE HOME OF DANIEL WEBSTER 123
IX. DUXBURY HOMES 142
X. KINGSTON AND ITS MANUSCRIPTS 157
XI. PLYMOUTH 175
A BIT OF COMMERCIAL STREET IN WEYMOUTH Frontispiece
THE STATE HOUSE FROM PARK STREET ix
MAP OF THE SOUTH SHORE facing 1
DORCHESTER BAY 1
OFF FOR PLYMOUTH BY THE OLD COAST ROAD 18
GREAT BLUE HILL 19
MILTON ESTATES facing 20
THE FORE RIVER SHIPYARD 35
THE ADAMS HOUSES IN QUINCY 56
THE WEYMOUTH WATER-FRONT 57
RATTLING ALONG THE OLD COAST ROAD 74
THE LINCOLN HOUSE IN HINGHAM 75
THE OLD SHIP MEETING-HOUSE facing 76
INTERIOR OF THE NEW NORTH CHURCH IN HINGHAM, WITH ITS SLAVE GALLERIES 91
COHASSET LEDGES AND MINOT'S LEDGE LIGHT 92
MODERN COHASSET 110
DRYING SEA-MOSS AT SCITUATE HARBOR 111
FOURTH CLIFF, SCITUATE 122
THE WEBSTER HOUSE 123
MARSHFIELD MEADOWS facing 136
A DUXBURY COTTAGE 142
A BAY VIEW TO DUXBURY BEACH 156
THE STANDISH MONUMENT AS SEEN FROM KINGSTON 157
OLD RECORDS 174
THE MEMORIAL BUILDING FOR THE TOWN OF PLYMOUTH, DESIGNED BY LITTLE AND RUSSELL, ARCHITECTS 175
VIEW FROM STEPS OF BURIAL HILL, PLYMOUTH, SHOWING THE TOWN SQUARE, LEYDEN STREET, THE CHURCH OF THE PILGRIMAGE, THE FIRST CHURCH, AND, IN THE DISTANCE, THE PILGRIM MONUMENT IN PROVINCETOWN facing 192
CLARK'S ISLAND, PLYMOUTH 203
BOSTON: A FOREWORD
To love Boston or to laugh at Boston—it all depends on whether or not you are a Bostonian. Perhaps the happiest attitude—and the most intelligent—is tinged with both amusement and affection: amusement at the undeviating ceremonial of baked beans on Saturday night and fish balls on Sunday morning; at the Boston bag (not so ubiquitous now as formerly); at the indefatigable consumption of lectures; at the Bostonese pronunciation; affection for the honorable traditions, noble buildings, distinguished men and women. Boston is an old city—one must remember that it was settled almost three centuries ago—and old cities, like old people, become tenacious of their idiosyncrasies, admitting their inconsistencies and prejudices with complacency, wisely aware that age has bestowed on them a special value, which is automatically increased with the passage of time.
To tell the story of an old city is like cutting down through the various layers of a fruity layer cake. When you turn the slice over, you see that every piece is a cross-section. So almost every locality and phase of this venerable metropolis could be studied, and really should be studied, according to its historical strata: Colonial, Provincial, Revolutionary, economic, and literary. All of these periods have piled up their associations one upon the other, and all of them must be somewhat understood if one would sincerely comprehend what has aptly been called not a city, but a "state of mind."
It is as impossible for the casual sojourner to grasp the significance of the multifarious historical and literary events which have transpired here as for a few pages to outline them. Wherever one stands in Boston suggests the church of San Clemente in Rome, where, you remember, there are three churches built one upon the other. However, those who would take the lovely journey from Boston to Plymouth needs must make some survey, no matter how superficial, of their starting-place. And perhaps the best spot from which to begin is the Common.
This pleasantly rolling expanse, which was set aside as long ago as 1640, with the decree that "there shall be no land granted either for houseplott or garden out of y^e open land or common field," has been unbrokenly maintained ever since, and as far as acreage goes (it approximates fifty acres) could still fulfill its original use of pasturing cows, a practice which was continued until 1830. It was here that John Hancock's cattle grazed—he who lived in such magnificence on the hill, and in whose side yard the State House was built—and once, when preparations for an official banquet were halted by shortage of milk, tradition has it that he ordered his servants to hasten out on the Common and milk every cow there, regardless of ownership. Tradition also tells us that the little boy Ralph Waldo Emerson tended his mother's cow here; and finally both traditions and existing law declare that yonder one-story building opening upon Mount Vernon Street, and possessing an oddly wide door, must forever keep that door of sufficient width to let the cows pass through to the Common.
Let us stand upon the steps of the State House and look out over the Common. To our right, near the intersection of Boylston and Tremont Streets, lies the half-forgotten, almost obliterated Central Burying Ground, the final resting-place of Gilbert Stuart, the famous American painter. At the left points the spire of Park Street Church, notable not for its age, for it is only a little over a century old, but for its charming beauty, and by the fact that William Lloyd Garrison delivered his first address here, and here "America" was sung in public for the first time. It was the windiness of this corner which was responsible for Tom Appleton's suggestion (he was the brother-in-law of Longfellow) that a shorn lamb be tethered here.
The graceful spire of Park Street Church serves not only as a landmark, but is also a most fitting terminal to a street of many associations. It is on Park Street that the publishing house of Houghton, Mifflin & Co. (now Houghton Mifflin Company) has had its offices for forty years, and the bookstores and the antique shops tucked quaintly down a few steps below the level of the sidewalk have much of the flavor of a bit of London.
Still standing on the State House steps, facing the Common, you are also facing what has been called the noblest monument in Boston and the most successfully placed one in America. It is Saint-Gaudens's bronze relief of Colonel Robert G. Shaw commanding his colored regiment, and if you see no other sculpture in a city which has its full quota you must see this memorial, spirited in execution, spiritual in its conception of a mighty moment.
If we had time to linger we could not do better than to follow Beacon Street to the left, pausing at the Athenaeum, a library of such dignity and beauty that one instinctively, and properly, thinks of it as an institution rather than a mere building. To enjoy the Athenaeum one must be a "proprietor" and own a "share," which entitles one not only to the use of the scholarly volumes in scholarly seclusion, but also in the afternoon to entrance to an alcove where tea is served for three pennies. Perhaps here, as well as any other place, you may see a characteristic assortment of what are fondly called "Boston types." There is the professor from Cambridge, a gentleman with a pointed beard and a noticeably cultivated enunciation; one from Wellesley—this, a lady—with that keen and paradoxically impractical expression which marks pure intellectuality; an alert matron, plainly, almost shabbily, dressed (aristocratic Boston still scorns sartorial smartness); a very well-bred young girl with bone spectacles; a student, shabby, like the Back Bay matron, but for another reason; a writer; a business man whose hobby is Washingtonia. These, all of them, you may enjoy along with your cup of tea for three cents, if—and here is the crux—you can only be admitted in the first place. And if you are admitted, do not fail to look out of the rear windows upon the ancient Granary Burying Ground, where rest the ashes of Hancock, Sewall, Faneuil, Samuel Adams, Otis, Revere, and many more notables. If you have a penchant for graveyards, this one, entered from Tremont Street, is more than worthy of further study.
This is one of the many things we could enjoyably do if we had time, but whether we have time or not we must pay our respects to the State House (one does not call it the Capitol in Boston, as in other cities), the prominence of whose golden dome is not unsuggestive, to those who recall it, of Saint Botolph's beacon tower in Boston, England, for which this city was named. The State House is a distinctively American building, and Bulfinch, the great American architect, did an excellent thing when he designed it. The dome was originally covered with plates of copper rolled by no other than that expert silversmith and robust patriot, Paul Revere—he whose midnight ride has been recited by so many generations of school-children, and whose exquisite flagons, cups, ladles, and sugar tongs not only compared with the best Continental work of that period, but have set a name and standard for American craftsmanship ever since.
If you should walk up and down the chessboard of Beacon Hill—taking the knight's move occasionally across the narrow cross-streets—you could not help treading the very squares which were familiar to the feet of that generation of authors which has permanently stamped American literature. At 55 Beacon Street, down near the foot of the hill and facing the Common, still stands the handsome, swell-front, buff-brick house where Prescott, the historian, lived. On Mount Vernon Street (which runs parallel to Beacon, and which, with its dignified beauty, won the approval of that connoisseur of beautiful streets—Henry James) one can pick out successively the numbers 59, 76, 83, 84, the first and last being homes of Thomas Bailey Aldrich, and the other two distinguished by the residence of William Ellery Channing and Margaret Deland. Pinckney Street runs parallel with Mount Vernon, and the small, narrow house at number 20 was one of the homes of the Alcott family. It seems delightfully fitting that Louisburg Square—that very exclusive and very English spot which probably retains more of the quaint atmosphere and customs of an aristocratic past than any other single area in the city—should have been the home of the well-beloved William Dean Howells. One also likes to recall that Jenny Lind was married at number 20. Chestnut Street—which after a period of social obscurity is again coming into its own—possesses Julia Ward Howe's house at number 13, that of Motley the historian at 16, and of Parkman at 50. In this hasty map we have gone up and down the hill, but the cross-street, Charles, although not so attractive, is nevertheless as rich in literary associations as any in Boston. Here lived, for a short time, at 164, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and at 131—also for a short time—Thomas Bailey Aldrich. It is, however, at 148, that we should longest pause. This, for many rich years, was the home of James T. Fields, that delightful man of letters who was the friend of many men of letters; he who entertained Dickens and Thackeray, and practically every foreign writer of note who visited this country; he who encouraged Hawthorne to the completion of the "Scarlet Letter," and he, who, as an appreciative critic, publisher, and editor, probably did more to elevate, inspire, and sustain the general literary tone of the city than any other single person. In these stirring days facile American genius springs up, like brush fires, from coast to coast. Novels pour in from the West, the Middle West, the South. To superficial outsiders it may seem as if Boston might be hard-pressed to keep her laurels green, but Boston herself has no fears. Her present may not shine with so unique a brilliance as her past, but her past gains in luster with each succeeding year. Nothing can ever take from Boston her high literary prestige.
While we are still on Beacon Hill we can look out, not only upon the past, but upon the future. Those white domes and pillars gleaming like Greek temples across the blue Charles, are the new buildings of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and surely Greek temples were never lovelier, nor dedicated to more earnest pursuit of things not mundane. Quite as beautiful and quite as Grecian as the Technology buildings is the noble marble group of the School of Medicine of Harvard University, out by the Fenlands—that section of the city which is rapidly becoming a students' quarter, with its Simmons College, the New England Conservatory of Music, art schools, gymnasiums, private and technical schools of all descriptions, and its body of over 12,000 students. Harvard is, of course, across the river in Cambridge, and preparatory schools and colleges dot the suburbs in every direction, upholding the cultural traditions of a city which has proved itself peculiarly fitted to educational interests.
All this time we have, like bona-fide Bostonians, stayed on Beacon Hill, and merely looked out at the rest of the city. And perhaps this is as typical a thing as we could have done. Beacon Hill was the center of original Boston, when the Back Bay was merely a marsh, and long after the marsh was filled in and streets were laid out and handsome residences lined them, Beacon Hill looked down scornfully at the new section and murmured that it was built upon the discarded hoopskirts and umbrellas of the true Bostonians. Even when almost every one was crowded off the Hill and the Back Bay became the more aristocratic section of the two, there were still enough of the original inhabitants left to scorn these upstart social pretensions. And now Beacon Hill is again coming back into her own: the fine old houses are being carefully, almost worshipfully restored, probably never again to lose their rightful place in the general life of the city.
But if Beacon Hill was conservative in regard to the Back Bay, that district, in its turn, showed an equal unprogressiveness in regard to the Esplanade. To the stranger in Boston, delighting in that magnificent walk along the Charles River Embankment, with the arching spans of the Cambridge and Harvard bridges on one side, and the homes of wealth and mellow refinement on the other—a walk which for invigorating beauty compares with any in the cities of men—it seems incredible that when this promenade was laid out a few years ago, the householders along the water's edge absolutely refused to turn their front windows away from Beacon Street. Furthermore, they ignored the fact that their back yards and back windows presented an unbecoming face to such an incomparably lovely promenade, and the inevitable household rearrangement—by which the drawing-rooms were placed in the rear—was literally years in process of achievement. But such conservatism is one of Boston's idiosyncrasies, which we must accept like the wind and the flat A.
Present-day Bostonians are proud—and properly so—of their Copley Square, with its Public Library, rich with the mural paintings of Puvis de Chavannes, with Abbey's "Quest of the Holy Grail," and Sargent's "Frieze of the Prophets"; with its well-loved Trinity Church and with much excellent sculpture by Bela Pratt. Copley Square is the cultural center of modern Boston. The famous Lowell lectures—established about seventy-five years ago as free gifts to the people—are enthusiastically attended by audiences as Bostonese as one could hope to congregate; and in all sorts of queer nests in this vicinity are Theosophical reading-rooms, small halls where Buddhism is studied or New Thought taught, and half a hundred very new or very old philosophies, religions, fads, fashions, reforms, and isms find shelter. It is easy to linger in Copley Square: indeed, hundreds and hundreds of men and women—principally women—come from all over the United States for the sole purpose of spending a few months or a season in this very place, enjoying the lectures, concerts, and art exhibitions which are so easily and freely accessible. But in this bird's-eye flight across the historical and geographical map of a city that tempts one to many pleasant delays, we must hover for a brief moment over the South and the North Ends.
Skipping back, then, almost three centuries, but not traveling far as distance goes, the stranger in Boston cannot do better than to find his way from Copley Square to the Old South Church on Washington Street—that venerable building whose desecration by the British troops in 1775 the citizens found it so hard ever to forgive. It was here that Benjamin Franklin was baptized in 1706; here that Joseph Warren made a dramatic entry to the pulpit by way of the window in order to denounce the British soldiers; and here that momentous meetings were held in the heaving days before the Revolution. The Old South Church Burying Ground is now called the King's Chapel Burying Ground, and King's Chapel itself—a quaint, dusky building, suggestive of a London chapel—is only a few blocks away. Across its doorsill have not only stepped the Royal Governors of pre-Revolutionary days, but Washington, General Gage, the indestructibly romantic figures of Sir Harry Frankland and Agnes Surriage; the funeral processions of General Warren and Charles Sumner. The organ, which came from England in 1756, is said to have been selected by Handel at the request of King George, and along the walls of the original King's Chapel were hung the escutcheons of the Kings of England and of the Royal Governors.
The Old State House is in this vicinity and is worthy—as are, indeed, both the Old South Church and King's Chapel—of careful architectural study and enjoyment. There are portraits, pictures, relics, and rooms within, and without the beautifully quaint lines and truly lovely details of the facade infuse a perpetual charm into the atmosphere of the city. It was directly in front of this building that the Boston Massacre took place in 1770, and from this second-story balcony that the repeal of the Stamp Act was read, and ten years later the full text of the Declaration of Independence.
Perhaps the next most interesting building in this section of old Boston is Faneuil Hall, the "Cradle of Liberty" whose dignified, old-fashioned proportions were not lost—thanks to Bulfinch—when it was enlarged. A gift of a public-spirited citizen, this building has served in a double capacity for a hundred and seventy-seven years, having public market-stalls below and a large hall above—a hall which is never rented, but used freely by the people whenever they wish to discuss public affairs. It would be impossible to enumerate the notable speakers and meetings which have rendered this hall famous, from General Gage down to Daniel Webster, Theodore Roosevelt, and Marshal Joffre.
If you are fond of water sights and smells you can step from Faneuil Hall down to a region permeated with the flavor of salt and the sound of shipping, a region of both ancient tradition and present activity. Here is India Wharf, its seven-story yellow-brick building once so tremendously significant of Boston's shipping prosperity; Long Wharf, so named because when it was built it was the longest in the country, and bore a battery at its end; Central Wharf, with its row of venerable stone warehouses; T Wharf, immensely picturesque with its congestion of craft of all descriptions; Commercial Wharf, where full-rigged sailing vessels which traded with China and India and the Cape of Good Hope were wont to anchor a hundred years ago. All this region is crammed with the paraphernalia of a typical water-front: curious little shops where sailors' supplies are sold; airy lofts where sails are cut and stitched and repaired; fish stores of all descriptions; sailors' haunts, awaiting the pen of an American Thomas Burke. The old Custom House where Hawthorne unwillingly plodded through his enforced routine is here, and near it the new Custom House rears its tower four hundred and ninety-eight feet above the sidewalk, a beacon from both land and sea.
The North End of Boston has not fared as well as the South End. The sons of Abraham and immigrants from Italy have appropriated the streets, dwellings, churches, and shops of the entire region, and even Christ Church (the famous Old North Church) has a Chiesa Italiana on its grounds. There are many touches to stir the memory in this Old North Church. The chime of eight bells naively stating, "We are the first ring of bells cast for the British Empire in North America"; the pew with the inscription that is set apart for the use of the "Gentlemen of Bay of Honduras"—visiting merchants who contributed the spire to the church in 1740; vaults beneath the church, forbidden now to visitors, where lie the bones of many Revolutionary heroes; a unique collection of vellum-covered books, and a few highly precious pieces of ancient furniture. The most conspicuous item about the church, of course, is that from its tower were hung the signal lanterns of Paul Revere, destined to shine imperishably down the ever-lengthening aisles of American history.
Before we press on to Bunker Hill—for that is our final destination—we should cast a glance at Copp's Hill Burying Ground, that hillside refuge where one can turn either back to the annals of the past or look out over the roof-tops and narrow streets to the present and the future. If you chose the latter, you can see easily Boston Harbor and Charlestown Navy Yard—that navy yard which has outstripped even its spectacular traditions by its stirring achievements in the Great War. "Old Ironsides" will lie here forever in the well-earned serenity of a secure old age, and it is probable that another visitor, the Kronprinzessin Cecilie, although lost under the name of the Mount Vernon and a coat of gray paint, will be long preserved in maritime memory.
The plain shaft of Bunker Hill Monument, standing to mark the spot where the Americans lost a battle that was, in reality, a victory, is like a blank mirror, reflecting only that which one presents to it. According to your historical knowledge and your emotional grasp Bunker Hill Monument is significant.
Skimming thus over the many-storied city, in a sort of literary airplane, it has been possible to point out only a few of the most conspicuous places and towers. The Common lies like a tiny pocket handkerchief of path-marked green at the foot of crowded Beacon Hill; the white Esplanade curves beside the blue Charles; the Back Bay is only a checkerboard of streets, alphabetically arranged; Copley Square is hardly distinguishable. The spires of the Old South Church, King's Chapel, the Old State House, and Faneuil Hall punctuate the South End; the North Church, the North End. The new Custom House Tower and Bunker Hill Monument seem hardly more than the minarets of a child's toy village.
The writer, as a pilot over this particular city, alights and resigns, commending for more detailed study, and for delightful guidance, Robert Shackleton's "Book of Boston." Let us now leave the city and set out in a more leisurely fashion on our way to Plymouth.
THE OLD COAST ROAD
From Boston to Plymouth
THE OLD COAST ROAD
DORCHESTER HEIGHTS AND THE OLD COAST ROAD
The very earliest of the great roads in New England was the Old Coast Road, connecting Boston with Plymouth—capitals of separate colonies. Do we, casually accepting the fruit of three hundred years of toil on this continent—do we, accustomed to smooth highways and swift and easy transportation, realize the significance of such a road?
A road is the symbol of the civilization which has produced it. The main passageway from the shore of the Yellow Sea to the capital of Korea, although it has been pressed for centuries immemorial by myriads of human feet, has never been more than a bridle path. On the other hand, wherever the great Roman Empire stepped, it engineered mighty thoroughfares which are a marvel to this day. A road is the thread on which the beads of history are strung; the beads of peace as well as those of war. Thrilling as is the progress of aerial navigation, with its infinite possibilities of human intercourse, yet surely, when the entire history of man is unrolled, the moment of the conception of building a wide and permanent road, instead of merely using a trail, will rank as equally dramatic. The first stone laid by the first Roman (they to whom the idea of road-building was original) will be recognized as significant as the quiver of the wings of the first airplane.
Let us follow the old road from Boston to Plymouth: follow it, not with undue exactitude, and rather too hastily, as is the modern way, but comfortably, as is also the modern way, picking up what bits of quaint lore and half-forgotten history we most easily may.
I think that as we start down this historic highway, we shall encounter—if our mood be the proper one in which to undertake such a journey—a curious procession coming down the years to meet us. We shall not call them ghosts, for they are not phantoms severed from earth, but, rather, the permanent possessors of the highway which they helped create.
We shall meet the Indian first, running lightly on straight, moccasined feet, along the trail from which he has burned, from time to time, the underbrush. He does not go by land when he can go by water, but in this case there are both land and water to meet, for many are the streams, and they are unbridged as yet. With rhythmic lope, more beautiful than the stride of any civilized limbs, and with a sure divination of the best route, he chooses the trail which will ultimately be the highway of the vast army of pale-faces. Speed on, O solitary Indian—to vanish down the narrow trail of your treading as you are destined, in time, to vanish forever from the vision of New England!... Behind the red runner plod two stern-faced Pilgrims, pushing their way up from Plymouth toward the newer settlement at Massachusetts Bay. They come slowly and laboriously on foot, their guns cocked, eyes and ears alert, wading the streams without complaint or comment. They keep together, for no one is allowed to travel over this Old Coast Road single, "nor without some arms, though two or three together." The path they take follows almost exactly the trail of the Indian, seeking the fords, avoiding the morasses, clinging to the uplands, and skirting the rough, wooded heights.... After them—almost a decade after—we see a man on horseback, with his wife on a pillion behind him. They carry their own provisions and those for the beast, now and then dismounting to lead the horse over difficult ground, and now and then blazing a tree to help them in their return journey—mute testimony to the cruder senses of the white man to whom woodcraft never becomes instinctive. The fact that this couple possesses a horse presages great changes in New England. Ferries will be established; tolls levied, bridges thrown across the streams which now the horses swim, or cross by having their front feet in one canoe ferry and their hind feet in another—the canoes being lashed together. As yet we see no vehicle of any kind, except an occasional sedan chair. (The first one of these of which we have knowledge was presented to Governor Winthrop as a portion of a capture from a Spanish galleon.) However, these are not common. In 1631 Governor Endicott of Salem wrote that he could not get to Boston to visit Governor Winthrop as he was not well enough to wade the streams. The next year we read of Governor Winthrop surmounting the difficulty when he goes to visit Governor Bradford, by being carried on the backs of Indians across the fords. (It took him two days to make the journey.)
It is not strange that we see no wheeled vehicles. In 1672 there were only six stage-coaches in the whole of Great Britain, and they were the occasion of a pamphlet protesting that they encouraged too much travel! At this time Boston had one private coach. Although one swallow may not make a summer, one stage-coach marks the beginning of a new era. The age of walking and horseback riding approaches its end; gates and bars disappear, the crooked farm lanes are gradually straightened; and in come a motley procession of chaises, sulkies, and two-wheeled carts—two-wheeled carts, not four. There are sleds and sleighs for winter, but the four-wheeled wagon was little used in New England until the turn of the century. And then they were emphatically objected to because of the wear and tear on the roads! In 1669 Boston enacted that all carts "within y^e necke of Boston shall be and goe without shod wheels." This provision is entirely comprehensible, when we remember that there was no idea of systematic road repair. No tax was imposed for keeping the roads in order, and at certain seasons of the year every able-bodied man labored on the highways, bringing his own oxen, cart, and tools.
But as the Old Coast Road, which was made a public highway in 1639, becomes a genuine turnpike—so chartered in 1803—the good old coaching days are ushered in with the sound of a horn, and handsome equipages with well-groomed, well-harnessed horses ply swiftly back and forth. Genial inns, with swinging pictorial signboards (for many a traveler cannot read), spring up along the way, and the post is installed.
But even with fair roads and regular coaching service, New England, separated by her fixed topographical outlines, remains provincial. It is not until the coming of the railroad, in the middle of the nineteenth century, that the hills are overcome, and she ceases to be an exclusively coastwise community and becomes an integral factor in the economic development of the whole United States.
Thus, then, from a thin thread of a trail barely wide enough for one moccasined foot to step before the other, to a broad, leveled thoroughfare, so wide that three or even four automobiles may ride abreast, and so clean that at the end of an all-day's journey one's face is hardly dusty, does the history of the Old Coast Road unroll itself. We who contemplate making the trip ensconced in the upholstered comfort of a machine rolling on air-filled tires, will, perhaps, be less petulant of some strip of roughened macadam, less bewildered by the characteristic windings, if we recall something of the first back-breaking cart that—not so very long ago—crashed over the stony road, and toilsomely worked its way from devious lane to lane.
Before we start down the Old Coast Road it may be enlightening to get a bird's-eye glimpse of it actually as we have historically, and for such a glimpse there is no better place than on the topmost balcony of the Soldier's Monument on Dorchester Heights. The trip to Dorchester Heights, in South Boston, is, through whatever environs one approaches it, far from attractive. This section of the city, endowed with extraordinary natural beauty and advantage of both land and water, and irrevocably and brilliantly graven upon the annals of American history, has been allowed to lose its ancient prestige and to sink low indeed in the social scale.
Nevertheless it is to Dorchester Heights that we, as travelers down the Old Coast Road, and as skimmers over the quickly turning pages of our early New England history, must go, and having once arrived at that lovely green eminence, whitely pointed with a marble shaft of quite unusual excellence, we must grieve once more that this truly glorious spot, with its unparalleled view far down the many-islanded harbor to the east and far over the famous city to the west, is not more frequented, more enjoyed, more honored.
If you find your way up the hill, into the monument, and up the stairs out to the balcony, probably you will encounter no other tourist. Only when you reach the top and emerge into the blue upper air you will meet those friendly winged visitors who frequent all spires—Saint Mark's in Venice or the Soldier's Monument in South Boston—the pigeons! Yes, the pigeons have discovered the charm of this lofty loveliness, and whenever the caretaker turns away his vigilant eye, they haste to build their nests on balcony or stair. They alone of Boston's residents enjoy to the full that of which too many Bostonians ignore the existence. Will you read the inscriptions first and recall the events which have raised this special hill to an historic eminence equal to its topographical one? Or will you look out first, on all sides and see the harbor, the city and country as it is to-day? Both surveys will be brief; perhaps we will begin with the latter.
Before us, to the wide east, lies Boston Harbor, decked with islands so various, so fascinating in contour and legend, that more than one volume has been written about them and not yet an adequate one. From the point of view of history these islands are pulsating with life. From Castle Island (on the left) which was selected as far back as 1634 to be a bulwark of the port, and which, with its Fort Independence, was where many of our Civil War soldiers received their training, to the outline of Squantum (on the right), where in October, 1917, there lay a marsh, and where, ten months later, the destroyer Delphy was launched from a shipyard that was a miracle of modern engineering—every mile of visible land is instinct with war-time associations.
But history is more than battles and forts and the paraphernalia of war; history is economic development as well. And from this same balcony we can pick out Thompson's, Rainsford, and Deer Island, set aside for huge corrective institutions—a graphic example of a nation's progress in its treatment of the wayward and the weak.
But if history is more than wars, it is also more than institutions. If it is the record of man's daily life, the pleasures he works for, then again we are standing in an unparalleled spot to look down upon its present-day manifestations. From City Point with its Aquarium, from the Marine Park with its long pleasure pier, to Nantasket with its flawless beach, this is the summer playground of unnumbered hosts. Boaters, bathers, picnickers—all find their way here, where not only the cool breezes sweep their city-heated cheeks, but the forever bewitching passage of vessels in and out, furnishes endless entertainment. They know well, these laughing pleasure-seekers, crowding the piers and boats and wharves and beaches, where to come for refreshment, and now and then, in the history of the harbor, a solitary individual has taken advantage of the romantic charm which is the unique heritage of every island, and has built his home and lived, at least some portion of his days, upon one.
Apple Island, that most perfectly shaped little fleck of land of ten acres, was the home of a Mr. March, an Englishman who settled there with his family, and lived there happily until his death, being buried at last upon its western slope. The fine old elms which adorned it are gone now, as have the fine old associations. No one followed Mr. March's example, and Apple Island is now merely another excursion point.
On Calf Island, another ten-acre fragment, one of America's popular actresses, Julia Arthur, has her home. Thus, here and there, one stumbles upon individuals or small communities who have chosen to live out in the harbor. But one cannot help wondering how such beauty spots have escaped being more loved and lived upon by men and women who recognize the romantic lure which only an island can possess.
Of course the advantage of these positions has been utilized, if not for dwellings. Government buildings, warehouses, and the great sewage plant all find convenient foothold here. The excursionists have ferreted out whatever beaches and groves there may be. One need not regret that the harbor is not appreciated, but only that it has not been developed along aesthetic as well as useful lines.
We have been looking at the east, which is the harbor view. If we look to the west we see the city of Boston: the white tower of the Custom House; the gold dome of the State House; the sheds of the great South Station; the blue line of the Charles River. Here is the place to come if one would see a living map of the city and its environs. Standing here we realize how truly Boston is a maritime city, and standing here we also realize how it is that Dorchester Heights won its fame.
It was in the winter of 1776, when the British, under Lord Howe, were occupying Boston, and had fortified every place which seemed important. By some curious oversight—which seems incredible to us as we actually stand upon the top of this conspicuous hill—they forgot this spot.
When Washington saw what they had not seen—how this unique position commanded both the city and the harbor—he knew that his opportunity had come. He had no adequate cannon or siege guns, and the story of how Henry Knox—afterward General Knox—obtained these from Ticonderoga and brought them on, in the face of terrific difficulties of weather and terrain, is one that for bravery and brains will never fail to thrill. On the night of March 4, the Americans, keeping up a cannonading to throw the British off guard, and to cover up the sound of the moving, managed to get two thousand Continental troops and four hundred carts of fascines and intrenching tools up on the hill. That same night, with the aid of the moonlight, they threw up two redoubts—performing a task, which, as Lord Howe exclaimed in dismay the following morning, was "more in one night than my whole army could have done in a month."
The occupation of the heights was a magnificent coup. The moment the British saw what had been done, they realized that they had lost the fight. However, Lord Percy hurried to make an attack, but the weather made it impossible, and by the time the weather cleared the Americans were so strongly intrenched that it was futile to attack. Washington, although having been granted permission by Congress to attack Boston, wished to save the loyal city if possible. Therefore, he and Howe made an agreement by which Howe was to evacuate and Washington was to refrain from using his guns. After almost two weeks of preparation for departure, on March 17 the British fleet, as the gilded letters on the white marble panel tell us, in the words of Charles W. Eliot:
Carrying 11,000 effective men And 1000 refugees Dropped down to Nantasket Roads And thenceforth Boston was free A strong British force Had been expelled From one of the United American colonies
The white marble panel, with its gold letters and the other inscriptions on the hill, tell the whole story to whoever cares to read, only omitting to mention that the thousand self-condemned Boston refugees who sailed away with the British fleet were bound for Halifax, and that that was the beginning of the opprobrious term: "Go to Halifax."
That the battle was won without bloodshed in no way minimizes the verdict of history that "no single event had a greater general effect on the course of the war than the expulsion of the British from the New England capital." And surely this same verdict justifies the perpetual distinction of this unique and beautiful hill.
This, then, is the story of Dorchester Heights—a story whose glory will wax rather than wane in the years, and centuries, to come. Let us be glad that out of the reek of the modern city congestion this green hill has been preserved and this white marble monument erected. Perhaps you see it now with different, more sympathetic eyes than when you first looked out from the balcony platform. Before us lies the water with its multifarious islands, bays, promontories, and coves, some of which we shall now explore. Behind us lies the city which we shall now leave. The Old Coast Road—the oldest in New England—winds from Boston to Plymouth, along yonder southern horizon. More history than one person can pleasantly relate, or one can comfortably listen to, lies packed along this ancient turnpike: incidents closer set than the tombs along the Appian Way. We will not try to hear them all. Neither will we follow the original road too closely, for we seek the beautiful pleasure drive of to-day more than the historic highway of long ago.
Boston was made the capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1632. Plymouth was a capital a decade before. It is to Plymouth that we now set out.
MILTON AND THE BLUE HILLS
Milton—a town of dignity and distinction! A town of enterprise and character! Ever since the first water-power mill in this country; the first powder mill in this country; the first chocolate mill in this country, and thus through a whole line of "first" things—the first violoncello, the first pianoforte, the first artificial spring leg, and the first railroad to see the light of day saw it in this grand old town—the name of Milton has been synonymous with initiative and men and women of character.
Few people to-day think of Milton in terms of industrial repute, but, rather, as a place of estates, too aristocratic to be fashionable, of historic houses, and of charming walks and drives and views. Many of the old families who have given the town its prestige still live in their ancestral manors, and many of the families who have moved there in recent years are of such sort as will heighten the fame of the famous town. As the stranger passes through Milton he is captivated by glimpses of ancient homesteads, settling behind their white Colonial fences topped with white Colonial urns, half hidden by their antique trees with an air of comfortable ease; of new houses, elegant and yet informal; of cottages with low roofs; of well-bred children playing on the wide, green lawns under the supervision of white-uniformed nurses; of old hedges, old walls, old trees; new roads, old drives, new gardens, and old gardens—everything well placed, well tended, everything presenting that indescribable atmosphere of well-established prosperity that scorns show; of breeding that neither parades nor conceals its quality. Yes—this is Milton; this is modern Milton. Boston society receives some of its most prominent contributions from this patrician source. But modern Milton is something more than this, as old Milton was something more than this.
For Milton, from this day of its birth, and countless centuries before its birth as a town, has lived under the lofty domination of the Blue Hills, that range of diaphanous and yet intense blue, that swims forever against the sky, that marches forever around the horizon. The rounded summits of the Blue Hills, to which the eye is irresistibly attracted before entering the town which principally claims them, are the worn-down stumps of ancient mountains, and although so leveled by the process of the ages, they are still the highest land near the coast from Maine to Mexico. These eighteen or twenty skyey crests form the southern boundary of the so-called Boston Basin, and are the most prominent feature of the southern coast. From them the Massachuset tribe about the Bay derived its name, signifying "Near the Great Hills," which name was changed by the English to Massachusetts, and applied to both bay and colony. Although its Indian name has been taken from this lovely range, the loveliness remains. All the surrounding country shimmers under the mysterious bloom of these heights, so vast that everything else is dwarfed beside them, and yet so curiously airy that they seem to perpetually ripple against the sky. The Great Blue Hill, especially—the one which bears an observatory on its summit—swims above one's head. It seems to have a singular way of moving from point to point as one motors, and although one may be forced to admit that this may be due more to the winding roads than to the illusiveness of the hill, still the buoyant effect is the same.
Ruskin declares somewhere, with his quaint and characteristic mixture of positiveness and idealism, that "inhabitants of granite countries have a force and healthiness of character about them that clearly distinguishes them from the inhabitants of less pure districts." Perhaps he was right, for surely here where the succeeding generations have all lived in the atmosphere of the marching Blue Hill, each has through its own fair name, done honor to the fair names which have preceded it.
One of the very first to be attracted by the lofty and yet lovely appeal of this region was Governor Thomas Hutchinson, the last of the Royal Governors Massachusetts was to know. It was about the middle of the eighteenth century that this gentleman, of whom John Adams wrote, "He had been admired, revered, and almost adored," chose as the spot for his house the height above the Neponset River. If we follow the old country Heigh Waye to the top of Unquity (now Milton) Hill, we will find the place he chose, although the house he built has gone and another stands in its place. Fairly near the road, it overlooked a rolling green meadow (a meadow which, by the gift of John Murray Forbes, will always be kept open), with a flat green marsh at its feet and the wide flat twist of the Neponset River winding through it, for all the world like a decorative panel by Puvis de Chavannes. One can see a bit of the North Shore and Boston Harbor from here. This is the view that the Governor so admired, and tradition tells us that when he was forced to return to England he walked on foot down the hill, shaking hands with his neighbors, patriot and Tory alike, with tears in his eyes as he left behind him the garden and the trees he had planted, and the house where he had so happily lived. Although the view from the front of the house is exquisite, the view from the back holds even more intimate attraction. Here is the old, old garden, and although the ephemeral blossoms of the present springtime shine brightly forth, the box, full twenty feet high, speaks of another epoch. Foxgloves lean against the "pleached alley," and roses clamber on a wall that doubtless bore the weight of their first progenitors.
Another governor who chose to live in Milton was Jonathan Belcher, but one fancies it was the grandness rather than the sweetness of the scene which attracted this rather spectacular person. The Belcher house still exists, as does the portrait of its master, in his wig and velvet coat and waistcoat, trimmed with richest gold lace at the neck and wrists. Small-clothes and gold knee and shoe buckles complete the picture of one who, when his mansion was planned, insisted upon an avenue fifty feet wide, and so nicely graded that visitors on entering from the street might see the gleam of his gold knee buckles as he stood on the distant porch. The avenue, however, was never completed, as Belcher was appointed governor of, and transferred to, New Jersey shortly after.
Two other men of note, who, since the days of our years are but threescore and ten, chose that their days without number should be spent in the town they loved, were Wendell Phillips and Rimmer the sculptor, who are both buried at Milton.
Not only notable personages, but notable events have been engendered under the shadow of these hills. The Suffolk Resolves, which were the prelude of the Declaration of Independence, were adopted at the Vose House, which still stands, square and unadorned, easy of access from the sidewalk, as is suitable for a home of democracy. The first piano ever made in this country received its conception and was brought to fulfillment in the Crehore house, which, although still sagging a bit, is by no means out of commission. And Wilde's Tavern, where was formed the public opinion in a day when the forming of public opinion was of preeminent importance, still retains, in its broad, hospitable lines, some shred of its ancient charm.
Milton is full of history. From the Revolutionary days, when the cannonading at Bunker Hill shook the foundations of the houses, but not the nerves of the Milton ladies, down to the year 1919, when the Fourth Liberty Loan of $2,955,250 was subscribed from a population of 9000, all the various vicissitudes of peace and war have been sustained on the high level that one might expect from men and women nobly nurtured by the strength of the hills.
How much of its success Milton attributes to its location—for one joins, indeed, a distinguished fellowship when one builds upon a hill, or on several hills, as Roman as well as Bostonian history testifies—can only be guessed by its tribute in the form of the Blue Hills Reservation. This State recreation park and forest reserve of about four thousand acres—a labyrinth of idyllic footpaths and leafy trails, of twisting drives and walks that open out upon superb vistas, is now the property of the people of Massachusetts. The granite quarry man—far more interested in the value of the stone that underlay the wooded slopes than in Ruskin's theory of its purifying effect upon the inhabitants—had already obtained a footing here, when, under the able leadership of Charles Francis Adams, the whole region was taken over by the State in 1894.
As you pass through the Reservation—and if you are taking even the most cursory glimpse of Milton you must include some portion of this park—you will pass the open space where in the early days, when Milton country life was modeled upon English country life more closely than now, Malcolm Forbes raced upon his private track the horses he himself had bred. The race-track with its judges' stands is still there, but there are no more horse-races, although the Forbes family still holds a conspicuous place in all the social as well as the philanthropic enterprises of the countryside. You may see, too, a solitary figure with a scientist's stoop, or a tutor with a group of boys, making a first-hand study of a region which is full of interest to the geologist.
Circling thus around the base of the Great Blue Hill and irresistibly drawn closer and closer to it as by a magnet, one is impelled to make the ascent to the top—an easy ascent with its destination clearly marked by the Rotch Meteorological Observatory erected in 1884 by the late A. Lawrence Rotch of Milton, who bequeathed funds for its maintenance. It is now connected with Harvard University.
Once at the top the eye is overwhelmed by a circuit of more than a hundred and fifty miles! It is almost too immense at first—almost as barren as an empty expanse of rolling green sea. But as the eye grows accustomed to the stretching distances, objects both near and far begin to appear. And soon, if the day is clear, buildings may be identified in more than one hundred and twenty-five villages. We are six hundred and thirty-five feet above the sea, on the highest coastland from Agamenticus, near York, Maine, to the Rio Grande, and the panorama thus unrolled is truly magnificent. Facing northerly we can easily distinguish Cambridge, Somerville, and Malden, and far beyond the hills of Andover and Georgetown. A little to the east, Boston with its gilded dome; then the harbor with its islands, headlands, and fortifications. Beyond that are distinctly visible various points on the North Shore, as far as Eastern Point Lighthouse in Gloucester. Forty miles to the northeast appear the twin lighthouses on Thatcher's Island, seeming, from here, to be standing, not on the land, but out in the ocean. Nearer and more distinct is Boston Light—a sentinel at the entrance to the harbor, while beyond it stretches Massachusetts Bay. Turning nearly east the eye, passing over Chickatawbut Hill—three miles off and second in height of the Blue Hills—follows the beautiful curve of Nantasket Beach, and the pointing finger of Minot's Light. Facing nearly south, the long ridge of Manomet Hill in Plymouth, thirty-three miles away, stands clear against the sky, while twenty-six miles away, in Duxbury, one sees the Myles Standish Monument. Directly south rises the smoke of the city of Fall River; to the westerly, Woonsocket, and continuing to the west, Mount Wachusett in Princeton. Far to the right of Wachusett, nearly over the dome of the Dedham Courthouse, rounds up Watatic in Ashburnham, and northwest a dozen peaks of southern New Hampshire. At the right of Watatic and far beyond it is the Grand Monadnock in Jaffrey, 3170 feet above the sea and sixty-seven and a half miles away. On the right of Grand Monadnock is a group of nearer summits: Mount Kidder, exactly northwest; Spofford and Temple Mountains; then appears the remarkable Pack-Monadnock, near Peterboro, with its two equal summits. The next group to the right is in Lyndeboro. At the right of Lyndeboro, and nearly over the Readville railroad stations, is Joe English Hill, and to complete the round, nearly north-northwest are the summits of the Uncanoonuc Mountains, fifty-nine miles away.
This, then, is the Great Blue Hill of Milton. Those who are familiar with the State of Massachusetts—and New England—can stand here and pick out a hundred distinguishing landmarks, and those who have never been here before may find an unparalleled opportunity to see the whole region at one sweep of the eye.
From the point of view of topography the summit of Great Blue Hill is the place to reach. But for the sense of mysterious beauty, for snatches of pictures one will never forget, the little vistas which open on the upward or the downward trail, framed by hanging boughs or encircled by a half frame of stone and hillside—these are, perhaps, more lovely. The hill itself, seen from a distance, floating lightly like a vast blue ball against a vaster sky, is dreamily suggestive in a way which the actual view, superb as it is, is not. One remembers Stevenson's observation, that sometimes to travel hopefully is better than to arrive. So let us come down, for, after all, "Love is of the valley." Down again to the old town of Milton. We have not half begun to wander over it: not half begun to hear the pleasant stories it has to tell. When one is as old as this—for Milton was discovered by a band from Plymouth who came up the Neponset River in 1621—one has many tales to tell.
Of all the towns along the South Shore there are few whose feet are so firmly emplanted in the economic history of the past and present as is Milton. That peculiar odor of sweetness which drifts to us with a turn of the wind, comes from a chocolate mill whose trade-mark of a neat-handed maid with her little tray is known all over the civilized world. And those mills stand upon the site of the first grist mill in New England to be run by water power. This was in 1634, and one likes to picture the sturdy colonists trailing into town, their packs upon their backs, like children in kindergarten games, to have their grain ground. Israel Stoughton was the name of the man who established this first mill—a name perpetuated in the near-by town of Stoughton.
All ground is historic ground in Milton. That rollicking group of schoolboys yonder belongs to an academy, which, handsome and flourishing as it is to-day, was founded as long ago as 1787. That seems long ago, but there was a school in Milton before that: a school held in the first meeting-house. Nothing is left of this quaint structure but a small bronze bas-relief, set against a stone wall, near its original site. This early church and early school was a log cabin with a thatched roof and latticed windows, if one may believe the relief, but men of brains and character were taught there lessons which stood them and the colony in good stead. One fancies the students' roving eyes may have occasionally strayed down the Indian trail directly opposite the old site—a trail which, although now attained to the proud rank of a lane, Churchill's Lane, still invites one down its tangled green way along the gray stone wall. Yes, every step of ground has its tradition here. Yonder railroad track marks the spot where the very first tie in the country was laid, and laid for no less significant purpose than to facilitate the carrying of granite blocks for Bunker Hill Monument from their quarry to the harbor.
Granite from the hills—the hills which swim forever against the sky and march forever above the distant horizon. Again we are drawn back to the irresistible magnet of those mighty monitors. Yes, wherever one goes in Milton, either on foot to-day or back through the chapters of three centuries ago, the Blue Hills dominate every event, and the Great Blue Hill floats above them all.
"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help," chants the psalmist. Ah, well, no one can say it better than that—except the hills themselves, which, with gentle majesty, look down affectionately upon the town at their feet.
SHIPBUILDING AT QUINCY
The first man-made craft which floated on the waters of what is now Fore River was probably a little dugout, a crude boat made by an Indian, who burned out the center of a pine log which he had felled by girdling with fire. After he had burned out as much as he could, he scraped out the rest with a stone tool called a "celt." The whole operation probably took one Indian three weeks. The Rivadavia which slid down the ways of the Fore River Shipbuilding Corporation in August, 1914, weighed 13,400 tons and had engaged the labor of 2000 men for fifty months.
Between these two extremes flutter all the great sisterhood of shallops, sloops, pinks, schooners, snows, the almost obsolete batteau and periagua, the gundelow with its picturesque lateen sail, and all the winged host that are now merely names in New England's maritime history.
We may not give in this limited space an account of the various vessels which have sailed down the green-sea aisles the last three hundred years. But of the very first, "a great and strong shallop" built by the Plymouth settlers for fishing, we must make brief mention, and of the Blessing of the Bay, the first seaworthy native craft to be built and launched on these shores—the pioneer of all New England commerce. Built by Governor Winthrop, he notes of her in his journal on August 31, 1631, that "the bark being of thirty tons went to sea." That is all he says, but from that significant moment the building of ships went on "gallantly," as was indeed to be expected in a country whose chief industry was fishing and which was so admirably surrounded by natural bays and harbors. In 1665 we hear of the Great and General Court of Massachusetts—which distinctive term is still applied to the Massachusetts Legislature—forbidding the cutting of any trees suitable for masts. The broad arrow of the King was marked on all white pines, twenty-four inches in diameter, three feet from the ground. Big ships and little ships swarmed into existence, and every South Shore town made shipbuilding history. The ketch, a two-masted vessel carrying from fifteen to twenty tons, carried on most of the coasting traffic, and occasionally ventured on a foreign voyage. When we recall that the best and cheapest ships of the latter half of the seventeenth century were built here in the new country, we realize that shipyards, ports, docks, proper laws and regulations, and the invigorating progress which marks any thriving industry flourished bravely up and down the whole New England coast.
It is rather inspiring to stand here on the bridge which spans the Fore River, and picture that first crude dugout being paddled along by the steady stroke of the red man, and then to look at the river to-day. Every traveler through Quincy is familiar with the aerial network of steel scaffolding criss-crossing the sky, with the roofs of shops and offices and glimpses of vessels visible along the water-front. But few travelers realize that these are merely the superficial features of a shipyard which under the urge of the Great War delivered to the Navy, in 1918, eighteen completed destroyers, which was as many as all the other yards in the country put together delivered during this time. A shipyard which cut the time of building destroyers from anywhere between eighteen and thirty-two months to an average of six months and a half; a shipyard which made the world's record of one hundred and seventy-four days from the laying of the keel to the delivering of a destroyer.
It is difficult to grasp the meaning of these figures. Difficult, even after one has obtained entrance into this city within a city, and seen with his own eyes twenty thousand men toiling like Trojans. Seen a riveting crew which can drive more than twenty-eight hundred rivets in nine hours; battleships that weigh thirty thousand tons; a plate yard piled with steel plates and steel bars worth two million dollars; cranes that can lift from five tons up to others of one hundred tons capacity; single buildings a thousand feet long and eighty feet high.
Perhaps the enormousness of the plant is best comprehended, not when we mechanically repeat that it covers eighty acres and comprises eighty buildings, and that four full-sized steam locomotives run up and down its yard, but when we see how many of the intimate things of daily living have sprung up here as little trees spring up between huge stones. For the Fore River Plant is more than an industrial organization. It is a social center, an economic entity. It has its band and glee club, ball team and monthly magazine. There are refreshment stands, and a bathing cove; a brand-new village of four hundred and thirty-eight brand-new houses; dormitories which accommodate nearly a thousand men and possess every convenience and even luxuries. The men work hard here, but they are well paid for their work, as the many motor-cycles and automobiles waiting for them at night testify. It is a scene of incredible industry, but also of incredible completeness.
To look down upon the village and the yard from the throbbing roof of the steel mill, seven hundred and seventy feet long and a hundred and eighty-eight wide, is a thrilling sight. Within the yard, confined on three sides by its high fences and buildings and on the fourth by Weymouth Fore River, one sees, far below, locomotives moving up and down on their tracks; great cranes stalking long-leggedly back and forth; smoke from foundry, blacksmith shop, and boiler shop; men hurrying to and fro. Whistles blow, and whole buildings tremble. The smoke and the grayness might make it a gloomy scene if it were not for the red sides of the immense submarines gleaming in their wide slips to the water. Everywhere one sees the long gray sides of freighters, destroyers, merchant ships, and oil tankers heaving like the mailed ribs of sea animals basking on the shore. Practically every single operation, from the most stupendous to the most delicate, necessary for the complete construction of these vessels, is carried on in this yard. The eighty acres look small when we realize the extent and variety of the work achieved within its limits.
Yes, the solitary Indian, working with fire and celt on his dugout, would not recognize this once familiar haunt, nor would he know the purpose of these vast vessels without sail or paddle. And yet, were this same Indian standing on the roof with us, he would see a wide stream of water he knew well, and he would see, too, above the smoke of the furnace, shop, and boiler room, the friendly green of the trees.
Perhaps there is nothing which makes us realize the magical rapidity of growth so much as to look from this steel city and to see the woods close by. For instead of being surrounded by the sordid congestion of an industrial center, the Fore River Shipyard is in the midst of practically open country.
While we are speaking of rapidity we must look over toward the Victory Plant at Squantum, that miraculous marsh which was drained with such expedition that just twelve months from the day ground was broken for its foundation, it launched its first ship, and less than two years after completed its entire contract. Surely never in the history of shipbuilding have brain and brawn worked so brilliantly together!
In this way, then, the history of the ships that have sailed the seven seas has been built up at Quincy—a dramatic history and one instinct with the beauty which is part of gliding canoe and white sails, and part, too, of the huge smooth-slipping monsters of a modern day, sleek and swift as leviathans. But all the while the building of these ships has been going on, there has been slowly rising within the selfsame radius another ship, vaster, more inspiring, calling forth initiative even more intense, idealism even more profound—the Ship of State.
We who journey to-day over the smooth or troubled waters of national or international affairs are no more conscious of the infinite toil and labors which have gone into the intricate making of the vessel that carries us, than are travelers conscious of the cogs and screws, the engines and all the elaboration of detail which compose an ocean liner. Like them we sometimes grumble at meals or prices, at some discourtesy or incompetence, but we take it for granted that the engine is in commission, that the bottom is whole and the chart correct. The great Ship of State of this country may occasionally run into rough weather, but Americans believe that, in the last analysis, she is honestly built. And it is to Quincy that we owe a large initial part of this building.
It is astonishing to enumerate the notable public men, who have been influential in establishing our national policy, who have come from Quincy. There is no town in this entire country which can equal the record. What other town ever produced two Presidents of the United States, an Ambassador to Great Britain, a Governor of the Commonwealth, a Mayor of Boston, two presidents of Harvard University, and judges, chief justices, statesmen, and orators in such quantity and of such quality? Truly this group of eminent men of brilliance, integrity, and public feeling is unique in our history. To read the biographies of Quincy's great men would comprise a studious winter's employment, but we, passing through the historic city, may hold up our fragment of a mirror and catch a bit of the procession.
First and foremost, of course, will come President John Adams, he who, both before and after his term of high office, toiled terrifically in the public cause, being at the time of his election to Congress a member of ninety committees and a chairman of twenty-five! We see him as the portraits have taught us to see him, with strong, serious face,—austere, but not harsh,—velvet coat, white ruffles, and white curls. He stands before us as the undisputed founder of what is now recognized as American diplomacy. Straightforward, sound to the core, unswerving, veracious, exemplifying in every act the candor of the Puritan, so congruous with the new simple life of a nation of common people. I think we shall like best to study him as he stands at the door of the little house in which he was born, and which, with its pitch roof, its antique door and eaves, is still preserved, close to the street, for public scrutiny.
Next to President John Adams comes his son, John Quincy Adams, also a President of the United States. Spending much of his time abroad, the experience of those diplomatic years is graven upon features more subtly refined than those of his sire. But for all his foreign residence, he was, like his father, a Puritan in its most exalted sense; like him toiled all his life in public service, dying in the harness when rising to address the Speaker of the House. Him, too, we see best, standing at the door of his birthplace, a small cottage a stone's throw from the other cottage, separated only by a turnstile. Fresh white curtains hang in the small-paned windows; the grass is neatly trimmed, and like its quaint companion it is now open to the public and worth the tourist's call. Both these venerable cottages have inner walls, one of burnt, the other of unburnt brick; and both are unusual in having no boards on the outer walls, but merely clapboards fastened directly on to the studding with wrought-iron nails.
Still another Adams follows, Charles Francis Adams. Although a little boy when he first comes into public view, a little boy occupying the conspicuous place as child of one President and grandchild of another, yet he was to win renown and honor on his own account as Ambassador to England during the critical period of our Civil War. America remembers him best in this position. His firm old face with its white chin whiskers is a worthy portrait in the ancestral gallery.
Although the political history of this country may conclude its reference to the Adamses with these three famous figures, yet all New Englanders and all readers of biography would be reluctant to turn from this remarkable family without mention of the sons of Charles Francis Adams, two of whom have written, beside valuable historical works, autobiographies so entertaining and so truly valuable for their contemporaneous portraits as to win a place of survival in our permanent literature.
A member of the Adams family still lives in the comfortable home where the three first and most famous members all celebrated their golden weddings. This broad-fronted and hospitable house, built in 1730 by Leonard Vassal, a West India planter, for his summer residence, with its library finished in panels of solid mahogany, was confiscated when its Royalist owner fled at the outbreak of the Revolution, and John Adams acquired the property and left the pitch-roofed cottage down the street. The home of two Presidents, what tales it could tell of notable gatherings! One must read the autobiography of Charles Francis Adams and "The Education of Henry Adams" to appreciate the charm of the succeeding mistresses of the noble homestead, and to enjoy in retrospect its many illustrious visitors.
To have produced one family like the Adamses would surely be sufficient distinction for any one place, but the Adams family forms merely one unit in Quincy's unique procession of great men.
The Quincy family, for which the town was named, and which at an early date intermarried with the Adamses, presents an almost parallel distinction. The first Colonel Quincy, he who lived like an English squire, a trifle irascible, to be sure, but a dignified and commanding figure withal, had fourteen children by his first wife and three by his second, so the family started off with the advantage of numbers as well as of blood. At the Quincy mansion house were born statesmen, judges, and captains of war. The "Dorothy Q." of Holmes's poem first saw the light in it, and the Dorothy who became the bride of the dashing John Hancock blossomed into womanhood in it. Here were entertained times without number Sir Harry Vane, quaint Judge Sewall, Benjamin Franklin, and that couple who gleam through the annals of New England history in a never-fading flame of romance, Sir Harry Frankland and beautiful Agnes Surriage. The Quincy mansion, which was built about 1635 by William Coddington of Boston and occupied by him until he was exiled for his religious opinions, was bought by Edmund Quincy. His grandson, who bore his name, enlarged the house, and lived in it until his death when it descended to his son Edmund, the eminent jurist and father of Dorothy. The old-fashioned furniture, utensils and pictures, the broad hall, fine old stairway with carved balustrades, and foreign wall-paper supposed to have been hung in honor of the approaching marriage of Dorothy to John Hancock, are still preserved in their original place. Of the Quincy family, whose sedate jest it was that the estate descended from 'Siah to 'Siah, so frequent was the name "Josiah," the best known is perhaps the Josiah Quincy who was Mayor of Boston for six years and president of Harvard for sixteen. The portrait of his long, thin face is part of every New England history, and his busy, serene life, "compacted of Roman and Puritan virtues," is still upheld to all American children as a model of high citizenship.
But not even the long line of the Quincy family completes the list of the town's great men. Henry Hope, one of the most brilliant financiers of his generation, and founder of a European banking house second only to that of the Rothchilds, was a native of Quincy. John Hull—who, as every school-child knows, on the day of his daughter's marriage to Judge Sewall, placed her in one of his weighing scales, and heaped enough new pine-tree shillings into the other to balance, and then presented both to the bridegroom—held the first grant of land in the present town of Braintree (which originally included Quincy, Randolph, and Holbrook).
From the picturesque union of John Hull's bouncing daughter Betsy and Judge Sewall sprang the extraordinary family of Sewalls which has given three chief justices to Massachusetts, and one to Canada, and has been distinguished in every generation for the talents and virtues of its members. In passing, we may note that it was this same John Hull who named Point Judith for his wife, little dreaming what a bete noir the place would prove to mariners in the years to come.
There is another Quincy man whom it is pleasant to recall, and that is Henry Flynt, a whimsical and scholarly old bachelor, who was a tutor at Harvard for no less than fifty-three years, the one fixed element in the flow of fourteen college generations. One of the most accomplished scholars of his day, his influence on the young men with whom he came in contact was stimulating to a degree, and they loved to repeat bits of his famous repartee. A favorite which has come down to us was on an occasion when Whitefield the revivalist declared in a theological discussion: "It is my opinion that Dr. Tillotson is now in hell for his heresy." To which Tutor Flynt retorted dryly: "It is my opinion that you will not meet him there."
The procession of Quincy's great men which we have been watching winds its way, as human processions are apt to do, to the old graveyard. Most of the original settlers are buried here, although not a few were buried on their own land, according to the common custom. Probably this ancient burying ground, with its oldest headstone of 1663, has never been particularly attractive. The Puritans did not decorate their graveyards in any way. Fearing that prayers or sermons would encourage the "superstitions" of the Roman Catholic Church, they shunned any ritual over the dead or beautifying of their last resting-place. However, neglected as the spot was, the old stone church, whose golden belfry is such a familiar and pleasant landmark to all the neighboring countryside, still keeps its face turned steadfastly toward it. The congested traffic of the city square presses about its portico, but those who knew and loved it best lie quietly within the shadow of its gray walls. Under the portico lies President John Adams, and "at his side sleeps until the trump shall sound, Abigail, his beloved and only wife." In the second chamber is placed the dust of his illustrious son, with "His partner for fifty years, Louisa Catherine"—she of whom Henry Adams wrote, "her refined figure; her gentle voice and manner; her vague effect of not belonging there, but to Washington or Europe, like her furniture and writing-desk with little glass doors above and little eighteenth-century volumes in old binding."
It has been called the "church of statesmen," this dignified building, and so, indeed, might Quincy itself be called the "city of statesmen." It would be extremely interesting to study the reasons for Quincy's peculiar productiveness of noble public characters. The town was settled (as Braintree) exclusively by people from Devonshire and Lincolnshire and Essex. The laws of the Massachusetts Colony forbade Irish immigration—probably more for religious than racial reasons. On reading the ancient petition for the incorporation of the town one is struck by the fact that practically every single name of the one hundred and fifty signers is English in origin, the few which were not having been anglicized. All of these facts point to a homogeneous stock, with the same language, traditions, and social customs. Obviously there is a connection between the governmental genius displayed by Quincy's sons and the singular purity of the original English stock.
Little did Wampatuck, the son of Chickatawbut, realize what he was doing when he parted with his Braintree lands for twenty-one pounds and ten shillings. The Indian deed is still preserved, with the following words on its back: "In the 17th reign of Charles 2. Braintry Indian Deeds. Given 1665. Aug. 10: Take great care of it."
Little did the Indian chief realize that the surrounding waters were to float hulks as mighty as a city; that the hills were to furnish granite for buildings and monuments without number; and that men were to be born there who would shape the greatest Ship of State the world has ever known. And yet, if he had known, possibly he would have accepted the twenty-one pounds and ten shillings just the same, and departed quietly. For the ships that were to be built would never have pleased him as well as his own canoe; the granite buildings would have stifled him; and the zealous Adamses and the high-minded Quincys and Sewalls and all the rest would have bored him horribly. Probably the only item in the whole history of Quincy which would have appealed to Wampatuck in the least would have been the floating down on a raft of the old Hollis Street Church of Boston, to become the Union Church of Weymouth and Braintree in 1810. This and the similar transportation of the Bowditch house from Beacon Street in Boston to Quincy a couple of years later would have fascinated the red man, as the recital of the feat fascinates us to-day.
Those who care to learn more of Quincy will do well to read the autobiography of Charles Francis Adams and "The Education of Henry Adams." Those who care more for places than for descriptions of them may wander at will, finding beneath the surface of the modern city many landmarks of the old city which underlies it. They may see the scaffolding of the great shipyards latticing themselves against the sky, and the granite quarries against the hills. They may see the little cottages and the great houses made famous by those who have passed over their thresholds; they may linger in the old burial ground and trace out the epitaphs under the portico of the golden-belfried church. But after they have touched and handled all of these things, they will not understand Quincy unless they look beyond and recognize her greatest contribution to this country—the noble statesmen who so bravely and intelligently toiled to construct America's Ship of State.
THE ROMANCE OF WEYMOUTH
The paintings of John Constable, idyllic in their quietness, dewy in their serenity—how many travelers, how many lovers of art, superficial or profound, yearly seek out these paintings in the South Kensington Museum or the Louvre, and stand before them wrapt in gentle ecstasy?
The quality of Constable's pictures delineates in luminous softness a peculiarly lovely side of English rural life, but one need not travel to England or France to see this loveliness. Weymouth, that rambling stretch of towns and hamlets, of summer colony and suburb, possesses in certain areas bits of rural landscape as serene, as dewy, as idyllically tranquil as Constable at his best.
Comparatively few people in New England, or out of it, know Weymouth well. Every one has heard of it, for it is next in age to the town of Plymouth itself, and every one who travels to the South Shore passes some section of it, for it extends lengthily—north and south, east and west—being the only town in Massachusetts to retain its original boundaries. And numbers of people are familiar with certain parts of it, for there are half a score of villages in the township, some of them summer settlements, some of them animated by an all-the-year-round life. But compared with the other towns along this historic route, Weymouth as a whole is little known and little appreciated. And yet the history of Weymouth is not without amusing and edifying elements, and the scenery of Weymouth is worthy of the detour that strangers rarely make.
"Old Spain" is the romantic name for an uninteresting part of the township, and, conversely, Commercial Street is the uninteresting name for a romantic part. It is along a highway stigmatized by such a name that one gets the glimpses of a Constable country: glimpses of rolling meadows, of fertile groves, of cattle grazing in elm-shaded pastures, of a road winding contentedly among simple, ancient cottages, and quiet, thrifty farms. These are the homes which belong, and have belonged for generations, to people who are neither rich nor poor; cozy, quaint, suggesting in an odd way the thatched-roof cottages of England. Not that all of Weymouth's homes are of this order. The Asa Webb Cowing house, which terminates Commercial Street within a stone's throw of the square of the town of Weymouth, is one of the very finest examples of the Colonial architecture in this country. The exquisite tracery and carving over and above the front door, and the white imported marble window lintels spin an elaborate and marvelously fine lacework of white over the handsome red-brick facade. Although it is, alas, falling somewhat into disrepair, perfect proportion and gemlike workmanship still stamp the venerable mansion as one of patrician heritage. There are other excellent examples of architecture in Weymouth, but the Cowing house must always be the star, both because of its extraordinary beauty and conspicuous position. Yes, if you want a characteristic glimpse of Weymouth, you cannot do better than to begin in front of this landmark, and drive down Commercial Street. Here for several smiling miles there is nothing—no ugly building large or small, no ruthless invasion of modernity to mar the mood of happy simplicity. Her beauty of beach, of sky, of river, Weymouth shares with other South Shore towns. Her perfection of idyllic rusticity is hers alone.
Just as Weymouth's scenery is unlike that of her neighbors, so her history projects itself from an entirely different angle from theirs. While they were conceived by zealous, God-fearing men and women honestly seeking to establish homes in a new country, Weymouth was inadvertently born through the misconduct of a set of adventurers. Not every one who came to America in those significant early years came impelled by lofty motives. There were scapegraces, bad boys, rogues, mercenaries, and schemers; and perhaps it is entirely logical that the winning natural loveliness of this place should have lured to her men who were not of the caliber to face more exposed, less fertile sections, and men to whom beauty made an especial appeal.
The Indians early found Wessagusset, as they called it, an important rendezvous, as it was accessible by land and sea, and there were probably temporary camps there previous to 1620, formed by fishermen and traders who visited the New England coast to traffic with the natives. But it was not until the arrival of Thomas Weston in 1622 that Weymouth's history really begins. And then it begins in a topsy-turvy way, so unlike Puritan New England that it makes us rub our eyes, wondering if it is really true.
This Thomas Weston, who was a merchant adventurer of London, took it into his head to establish a colony in the new country entirely different from the Plymouth Colony. He had been an agent of the Pilgrims in their negotiations with the Plymouth Company, and when he broke off the connection it was to start a settlement which should combine all of the advantages, with none of the disadvantages, of the Plymouth Colony. First of all, it was to be a trading community pure and simple, with its object frankly to make money. Second, it was to be composed of men without families and familiar with hardship. And third, there was no religious motive or bond. That such an unidealistic enterprise should not flourish on American soil is worth noting. The disorderly, thriftless rabble, picked up from the London streets, soon got into trouble with the Indians and with neighboring colonists, and finally, undone by the results of their own improvidence and misbehavior, wailed that they "wanted to go back to London," to which end the Plymouth settlers willingly aided them, glad to get them out of the country. Thus ended the first inauspicious settlement of Weymouth.
The second, which was undertaken shortly after by Robert Gorges, broke up the following spring, leaving only a few remnants behind. Sir Ferdinando Gorges, who was not a Spaniard as his name suggests, but a picturesque Elizabethan and a kinsman of Sir Walter Raleigh, essayed (through his son Robert) an experimental government along practically the same commercial lines as had Weston, and his failure was as speedy and complete as Weston's had been.
A third attempt, while hardly more successful, furnishes one of the gayest and prettiest episodes in the whole history of New England. Across the somber procession of earnest-faced men and women, across the psalm-singing and the praying, across the incredible toil of the pioneers at Plymouth now flashes the brightly costumed and pleasure-loving courtier, Thomas Morton. An agent of Gorges, Morton with thirty followers floated into Wessagusset to found a Royalist and Episcopalian settlement. This Episcopalian bias was quite enough to account for Bradford's disparaging description of him as a "kind of petie-fogie of Furnifells Inn," and explains why the early historians never made any fuller or more favorable record than absolutely necessary of these neighbors of theirs, although the churchman Samuel Maverick admits that Morton was a "gentleman of good qualitee."
But it was for worse sins than his connection with the Established Church that Morton's name became synonymous with scandal throughout the whole Colony. In the very midst of the dun-colored atmosphere of Puritanism, in the very heart of the pious pioneer settlement this audacious scamp set up, according to Bradford, "a schoole of atheisme, and his men did quaff strong waters and comport themselves as if they had anew revived and celebrated the feasts of y^e Roman Goddess Flora, or the beastly practises of y^e madd Bachanalians." The charge of atheism in this case seems based on the fact that Morton used the Book of Common Prayer, but as for the rest, there is no question that this band of silken merry-makers imported many of the carnival customs and hereditary pastimes of Old England to the stern young New England; that they fraternized with the Indians, shared their strong waters with them, and taught them the use of firearms; and that Merrymount became indeed a scene of wildest revelry.
The site of Merrymount had originally been selected by Captain Wollaston for a trading post. Imbued with the same mercenary motive which had proved fatal in the case of Weston and Gorges, Captain Wollaston, whose name is perpetuated in Mount Wollaston, brought with him in 1625 a gang of indented white servants. Finding his system of industry ill suited to the climate, he carried his men to Virginia, where he sold them. When he left, Morton took possession of the place and dubbed it "Ma-re-mount." And then began the pranks which shook the Colony to its foundations. Picture to yourself a band of sworn triflers, dedicated to the wildest philosophy of pleasure, teaching bears to dance, playing blind-man's buff, holding juggling and boxing matches, and dancing. According to Hawthorne, on the eve of Saint John they felled whole acres of forests to make bonfires, and crowned themselves with flowers and threw the blossoms into the flames. At harvest-time they hilariously wasted their scanty store of Indian corn by making an image with the sheaves, and wreathing it with the painted garlands of autumn foliage. They crowned the King of Christmas and bent the knee to the Lord of Misrule! Such fantastic foolery is inconceivable in a Puritan community, and the Maypole which was its emblem was the most inconceivable of all. This "flower-decked abomination," ornamented with white birch bark, banners, and blossoms, was the center of the tipsy jollity of Merrymount. As Morton explains: "A goodly pine tree of eighty foote was reared up, with a peare of bucks horns nayled on somewhere near to the top of it: where it stood as a faire sea mark for directions how to find out the way to mine host of Ma-re-mount." Around this famous, or infamous, pole Morton and his band frolicked with the Indians on May Day in 1627. As the indignant historian writes: "Unleashed pagans from the purlieus of the gross court of King James, danced about the Idoll of Merry Mount, joining hands with the lasses in beaver coats, and singing their ribald songs."
It doesn't look quite so heinous to us, this Maypole dancing, as it did to the outraged Puritans. In fact, the story of Morton and Merrymount is one of the few glistening threads in the somber weaving of those early days. But the New England soil was not prepared at that time to support any such exotic, and Myles Standish was sent to disperse the frivolous band, and to order Morton back to England, which he did, after a scrimmage which Morton relates with great vivacity and doubtful veracity in his "New English Canaan."
This "New English Canaan," by the way, had a rather singular career. Morton tells in it many amusing stories, and one of them was destined to a remarkable perpetuity in English literature. The story deals with the Wessagusset settlers promising to hang one of their own members who had been caught stealing—this hanging in order to appease the Indians. Morton gravely states that instead of hanging the real culprit, who was young and lusty, they hanged, in his place, another, old and sick. In his quaint diction: "You all agree that one must die, and one shall die, this young man's cloathes we will take off and put upon one that is old and impotent, a sickly person that cannot escape death, such is the disease on him confirmed, that die hee must. Put the young man's cloathes on this man, and let the sick person be hanged in the other's steade. Amen sayes one, and so sayes many more." This absurd notion of vicarious atonement, spun purely from Morton's imagination, appealed to Samuel Butler as worthy of further elaboration. Morton's "New English Canaan" appeared in 1632. About thirty years later the second part of the famous English satire "Hudibras" appeared, embodying Morton's idea in altered but recognizable form, in what was the most popular English book of the day. This satire, appearing when the reaction against Puritanism was at its height, was accepted and solemnly deposited at the door of the good people of Boston and Plymouth! And thus it was that Morton's fabricated tale of the Weymouth hanging passed into genuine history along with the "blue laws" of Connecticut. One cannot help believing that the mischievous perpetrator of the fable laughed up his sleeve at its result, and one cannot resist the thought that he was probably delighted to have the scandal attached to those righteous neighbors of his who had run him out of his dear Ma-re-mount.
However, driven out he was: the Maypole about which the revelers had danced was hewed down by the stern zealots who believed in dancing about only one pole, and that the whipping-post. Merrymount was deserted.
Certainly Weymouth, the honey spot which attracted not industrious bees, but only drones, was having a hard time getting settled! It was not until the Reverend Joseph Hull received permission from the General Court to settle here with twenty-one families, from Weymouth, England, that the town was at last shepherded into the Puritan fold.
These settlers, of good English stock and with the earnest ideals of pioneers, soon brought the community into good repute, and its subsequent life was as respectable and uneventful as that of a reformed roue. In fact there is practically no more history for Weymouth. There are certainly no more raids upon merry-makers; no more calls from the cricket colony which had sung all summer on the banks of the river to the ant colony which had providently toiled on the shore of the bay; no more experimental governments; no more scandal. The men and women of the next five generations were a poor, hard-working race, rising early and toiling late. The men worked in the fields, tending the flocks, planting and gathering the harvest. The women worked in the houses, in the dairies and kitchens, at the spinning-wheel and washtub. The privations and loneliness, which are part of every struggling colony, were augmented here, where the houses did not cluster about the church and burial ground, but were scattered and far away. This peculiarity of settlement meant much in days where there was no newspaper, no system of public transportation, no regular post, and Europe was months removed. A few of the young men went with the fishing fleet to Cape Sable, or sailed on trading vessels to the West Indies or Spain, but it is doubtful if any Weymouth-born woman ever laid eyes on the mother country during the first hundred and fifty years.
The records of the town are painfully dull. They are taken up by small domestic matters: the regulations for cattle; running boundary lines, locating highways, improving the town common, fixing fines for roving swine or agreeing to the division of a whale found on the shore. There was more or less bickering over the salary of the town clerk, who was to receive thirty-three pounds and fourteen shillings yearly to keep "A free school and teach all children and servants sent him to read and write and cast accounts."
Added to the isolation and pettiness of town affairs, the winters seem to have been longer, the snows deeper, the frosts more severe in those days. We have records of the harbor freezing over in November, and "in March the winter's snow, though much reduced, still lay on a level with the fences, nor was it until April that the ice broke up in Fore River." They were difficult—those days ushered in by the Reverend Joseph Hull. Through long nights and cold winters and an endless round of joyless living, Weymouth expiated well for the sins of her youth. Even as late as 1767 we read of the daughter of Parson Smith, of Weymouth—now the wife of John Adams, of Quincy—scrubbing the floor of her own bed-chamber the afternoon before her son—destined to become President of the United States, as his father was before him—was born.
But the English stock brought in by the Reverend Hull was good stock. We may not envy the ladies scrubbing their own floors or the men walking to Boston, but many of the best families of this country are proud to trace their origin back to Weymouth. Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont; then New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut attracted men from Weymouth. Later the Middle West and the Far West called them. In fact for over a century the town hardly raised its number of population, so energetic was the youth it produced.
As happens with lamentable frequency, when Weymouth ceased to be naughty she also ceased to be interesting. After poring over the dull pages of the town history, one is sometimes tempted to wonder if, perhaps, the irreverent Morton did not, for all his sins, divine a deeper meaning in this spot than the respectable ones who came after him. One cannot read the "New English Canaan" without regretting a little that this happy-natured fellow was so unceremoniously bustled out of the country. Whatever Morton's discrepancies may have been, his response to beauty was lively and true: whatever his morals, his prose is delightful. All the town records and memorial addresses of all the good folk subsequent contain no such tribute to Weymouth, and paint no picture so true of that which is still best in her, as these loving words of the erstwhile master of Merrymount.